Pro-choice Argument: A Woman Should Have Control Over Her Own Body

In a fallacy that appeals to the heart, the arguer uses emotional appeals rather than logical reasons to persuade the listener. The fallacy can appeal to various emotions including pride, pity, fear, hate, vanity, or sympathy. The appeal to sympathy is actually a formal fallacy labeled ad misericordiam.

Generally, the issue is oversimplified to the advantage of the arguer. For example, in 1972, there was a widely-printed advertisement printed by the Foulke Fur Co., which was in reaction to the frequent protests against the killing of Alaskan seals for the making of fancy furs. According to the advertisement, clubbing the seals was one of the great conservation stories of our history, a mere exercise in wildlife management, because “biologists believe a healthier colony is a controlled colony.”

Have you ever run into this?  For instance, take the following pro-choice argument. Is it a principle or a fallacy?

Pro-choice argument: A woman should have control over her own body.

This statement, while arguably true when applied to the individual, does not address a number of details.

First, her baby has its own body, brain, heartbeat, blood type, sex, and genes–half of which was donated by the father.  Does that mean the baby is half his, legally?  Or is possession truly nine-tenths of the law?

Second, it neglects the controversy of whether it is a ‘fetus’ or a ‘baby’.  (A popular Right to Life slogan is, “If it’s not a baby, then you’re not pregnant.”)  If it is a fetus, a mere sac of blood and tissue, surely it is within a woman’s right to have it removed, the same as one would have a cancerous tumor removed.  If, however, it is a baby (thereby implying that the woman is indeed pregnant and not simply experiencing a random growth or venereal disease), then one wonders what rights the unborn child is allowed to possess.

The “woman should have control over her own body” argument appeals to a liberal, human rights slant.  It fuels the emotional certainty that we should all have consummate control over our bodies and what goes on inside them, while neglecting the same control for the unborn child.

In heated issues where positions are characterized by a high emotional index, it is common for antagonists to hurl fallacies at each other, but this is immature. When considering such a devisive topic as abortion, it is often difficult to separate emotions from rational debate (but not impossible.)

Pro-choice is said to follow from the widely accepted principle that individuals have a right to control their bodies.  The counterargument would have to examine to what extent the principle is applicable. For example, do people have a right to kill themselves?  To damage their bodies through self-destructive habits such as drinking, smoking, taking narcotics or mountain climbing?  If yes, do women have that right in full when they are pregnant or do mothers have obligations to limit self-destructive habits when they are pregnant?

To the extent you weaken the premise on which the argument depends, to that extent do you weaken the conclusion for pro-choice.

Planned Parenthood Admits Abortion Kills the Life of a Baby

In the beginning, it appears everyone was on the same page. Below is a Planned Parenthood pamphlet on family planning, as printed in 1952. Quote:

Is it an abortion?

Definitely not. An abortion requires an operation. It kills the life of a baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health. It may make you sterile so that when you want a child you cannot have it. Birth control merely postpones the beginning of life.

Planned Parenthood pamphlet admits abortion is killing a baby

Planned Parenthood pamphlet admits abortion is killing a baby

Sanctity of Life Quotes

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life . . .”
~ Deuteronomy 30:19

“We hold these truths to be self-evident . . . that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these life . . .”
~ Declaration of Independence

“Thou shall not kill.”
~ God

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein

Abortion Quotes

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
~ Blessed Mother Teresa

“Nothing we do to defend the human person, no matter how small, is ever unfruitful or forgotten. Our actions touch other lives and move other hearts in ways we can never fully understand in this world. Don’t ever underestimate the beauty and power of the witness you give in your pro-life work.”
~ Archbishop Charles Chaput
(view The Little Things Matter, a video series on the Butterfly Effect, by motivational speaker, Andy Andrews)

“Pro-choice and pro-life activists live in different worlds, and the scope of their lives, as both adults and children, fortifies them in their belief that their own views on abortion are the more correct, the more moral, and more reasonable. When added to this is the fact that should ‘the other side’ win, one group of women will see the very real devaluation of their lives and life resources, it is not surprising that the abortion debate has generated so much heat and so little light.”
~ Kristin Luker

“An abortion kills the life of the baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health.”
~ Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 1952
(see the pamphlet)

Capital Punishment Quotes

“We oppose the death penalty not just for what it does to those guilty of heinous crimes, but for what it does to all of us, it offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life.”
~ Most Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza

“You can’t save a man if he’s dead.”
~ Unknown

Respect Quotes

“That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong.”
~ William J. H. Boetcker

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”
~ Jackie Robinson

“Men are respectable only as they respect.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Suicide Quotes

“Here in the bathroom with me are razor blades. Here is iodine to drink. Here are sleeping pills to swallow. You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be. Every time you don’t throw yourself down the stairs, that’s a choice. Every time you don’t crash your car, you reenlist.”
~ Chuck Palahniuk

“Suicide sometimes proceeds from cowardice, but not always; for cowardice sometimes prevents it; since as many live because they are afraid to die, as die because they are afraid to live.”
~ Charles Caleb Colton

“Settle down, precious. I know what you’re going through. Ten minutes before you got here, I was gonna jump too.”
~ Unknown

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”
~ Ben Okri

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
~ Phil Donahue

“Anyone desperate enough for suicide…should be desperate enough to go to creative extremes to solve problems: elope at midnight, stow away on the boat to New Zealand and start over, do what they always wanted to do but were afraid to try.”
~ Richard Bach

“To make yourself something less than you can be – that too is a form of suicide.”
~ Benjamin Lichtenberg

“All healthy men have thought of their own suicide.”
~ Albert Camus

“The only reason I don’t end it all is because I keep waiting for it to get better, to make friends, and be prettier.”
~ Unknown

“No one ever lacks a good reason for suicide.”
~ Cesare Pavese

“Nine men in ten are would-be suicides.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

War Quotes

“He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
~ Albert Einstein

“Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country.”
~ Bertrand Russell

“The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.”
~ David Friedman

“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.”
~ Sun Tzu

“There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.”
~ Henry Ellis

“There was never a good war, or a bad peace.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

“War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”
~ John F. Kennedy

“What is the use of physicians like myself trying to help parents to bring up children healthy and happy, to have them killed in such numbers for a cause that is ignoble?”
~ Benjamin Spock

“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”
~ Jeannette Rankin

“Man has no right to kill his brother. It is no excuse that he does so in uniform: he only adds the infamy of servitude to the crime of murder.”
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”
~ John F. Kennedy

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”
~ Voltaire

“All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers.”
~ Francois Fenelon

“An unjust peace is better than a just war.”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”
~ George McGovern

“If it’s natural to kill, how come men have to go into training to learn how?”
~ Joan Baez

“If we don’t end war, war will end us.”
~ H. G. Wells

“In modern war… you will die like a dog for no good reason.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower